The answer is yes, Yes, YES! For those of you that are rushed for time and have no interest in reading an entire blog article, that’s all you need to know. I know you don’t want to spend the money and I can’t blame you. Just do it. Search the internet and find someone in your price range with a good reputation. You may now return to your normal life. If you want to know why I’m so emphatic about copy editors, then, by all means, read on.
Like all self-published writers, I can’t (or is it won’t?) afford to spend thousands of dollars on editors, proofreaders, reviewers, etc. And so I initially didn’t spend any money on third parties. At all. My husband designed the front and back covers, I had friends content review my manuscripts, and I proofread myself. And of course readers noticed and remarked upon my lack of editing and proofreading. I ignored the comments; knowing it could be better, but wanting to concentrate on the story itself. And okay, being a bit of cheapskate as well.
And then I published my third book and readers/reviewers were starting to take me more seriously. I thought that in and of itself was a bit strange until I considered the books I have reviewed over the past year. At some point, I stopped accepting debut novels from authors knowing that the lack of editing and proofreading would drive me nuts.
Pot meet kettle.
I started to search for a professional proofreader for my third novel, but then my first book, which I had made free in an effort to increase sales, started to sell. Of course readers continued to comment on the spelling and grammatical errors as well as the lack of editing. One of the main reasons I’d made the book free was to increase name recognition. I didn’t want my professional reputation to be hurt by my past mistakes and thus I went ahead and engaged a proofreader for my first novel.
I’d written my first novel ten years before I published it. When I decided to self-publish the book, I spent a month going through the book correcting spelling and grammatical errors as well as editing and revising. I thought I had done an okay job even though I knew I wasn’t a professional.
And then I got the edited manuscript back from my proofreader.
One of the reasons I had hesitated to engage an editor of any sort was my fear that she would completely alter the manuscript. I was mistaken. Don’t get me wrong. She made lots and lots of changes, but they all made the book that much better! Why hadn’t I done this sooner? Oh right, I’m an idiot and a cheapskate. Well, no more. I immediately engaged her to review my other two manuscripts.
I’m sure there will still be mistakes in my manuscript and maybe with my fourth book, I’ll also find a content editor in addition to a copy editor. Like most things with self-publishing, it’s a constant learning process. Each book (I hope!) gets more professional. And after all, is there anything else we can ask for in life but for things to get better with time?